Providing real food choices to your dog can be easy

 

If you’re anything like me, I used to think that animal food either came from a bag or a can.  Making easy and healthy treats with real food wasn’t something I thought could be practical or doable from a healthcare perspective as an animal owner.  Sure, I used to (and still do 😉) read all of the label to determine whether the product was something that could be healthy for  my animals.  I thought making dog food was too complicated.  I knew for the most part, they were dependent on me for what they could eat, and I thought giving them all the nutrients they needed was best provided by a commercially prepared, ‘complete and balanced diet’.  Even if there are far to many chemicals listed on labels, various disclaimer statements and prepared in accordance with something called AAFCO. 

An aside:  After lots of deep digging in many rabbit warrens doing my post grad, I finally understood at least some of the pet food regulatory and non-regulatory arrangements.  AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials, a non-regulatory not-for-profit commercial enterprise that provides feed companies a standard of nutrient profile ranges, much like the human nutrient recommended daily intake list.

At some point during the post grad digging, and encountering some healthy and not so healthy dogs in my clinic, including my own animals,  it slowly dawned on me that providing healthy food, didn’t have to rely solely on a commercial packet.  Nor did it have to be complicated!  And it could be loads of fun!  You can create easy, healthy treats that your dog will love!! 

Thankfully, growing up with a creative whizz of a mum, playing in the kitchen wasn’t such a daunting task. My dogs and cat happily ate what I made…for the most part.  Isabella wasn’t as keen on the dehydrated sweet potato that I didn’t steam first.  All that starch in one nibble.  Ewww! 

I found that with these four simple principles and some basic recipes, I could create masterpieces.  At least my two dogs and cat told me they where (🤔).  Oh, and my clients animals too.

  • Keep it simple;
  • Don’t overdo the fat content; and
  • Steer clear of toxic ingredients such as xylitol (a sugar-free sweetener), onions and garlic (causes anaemia), chocolate and caffeine.
  • Dog don’t need carob chip cookies!! Eat those treats yourself.

Using a basic biscuit recipe

 

A basic biscuit recipe of three ingredients, (grain, oil & egg to bind) is a great place to start. You can add additional ingredients such as mint, fennel or even blitz some frozen mixed vegetables.

Other ways to introduce real food treats

Try some rolled oats, sardines, an egg and some oat flour (buzz a few of those rolled oats in the spice grinder).  Bind all ingredients into a moist dough.  Spread the dough on a biscuit tray and bake in a moderately slow oven (160 oC) until lightly browned. Slice into treat size pieces once cooled.

Fresh or frozen berries, full of flavonoids, make a quick and easy treat too.

What are the benefits of making dog treats

Why would you need to expend the energy making treats when you can easily buy that roast chook, a packet of dried salmon skins or use 10% of your dog’s dry kibble?

For me, and echoed by many of my clients and friends,  it’s fun creating the special treats your dog loves and so rewarding when your dog can’t wait to play and munch treats you made especially for them! 

Creating treats with real food with simple recipes gives you easy ways to:

  • Provide choice to your dog, find out their likes and dislikes and what are potentially high value treats (work in almost any situation);
  • Provide nutrients to assist in optimising digestive health; and
  • A healthy digestive system gives the best possible support to brain function and overall wellbeing.

If you are looking for easy, healthy dog treat recipes that have been taste tested by a canine ‘Chief Taste Tester’ and checked by a veterinary herbalist, look no further than our ‘5 Easy, Healthy Dog Treat Recipes Your Dog Will Love’. 

Post a photo of what you create on our Facebook page, Willow Wise Therapies and let us know which recipe is your dog’s favourite!

 

 

References:

Chapagain D, Virányi Z, Huber L, Serra J, Schoesswender J, Range F. Effect of age and dietary intervention on discrimination learning in pet dogs. Frontiers in psychology. 2018 Nov 14;9:2217.

Mondo, E., Barone, M., Soverini, M., D’Amico, F., Cocchi, M., Petrulli, C., Mattioli, M., Marliani, G., Candela, M. and Accorsi, P.A., 2020. Gut microbiome structure and adrenocortical activity in dogs with aggressive and phobic behavioral disorders. Heliyon, 6(1), p.e03311.

Velardo S., Fane J., Jong S., Watson M. (2020) Nutrition and Learning in the Australian Context. In: Midford R., Nutton G., Hyndman B., Silburn S. (eds) Health and Education Interdependence. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-3959-6_9

 

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